Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

Food - recipes, reviews, and discussion
Post Reply
User avatar
Anton D
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 29301
Joined: October 17th, 2013, 11:25 am
Location: Chico, CA

Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#1 Post by Anton D » September 2nd, 2019, 12:22 pm

I am "special needs" when it comes to searing.

Starting to practice for a big family week in November, si I took my younger son and two of his buddies captive, as well as my older son and his wife volunteered, and gave it another go.

We tried some various 'sprinkles' on the scallops before cooking, dusting one side with different things and then cooking and seeing what people liked...

We used plain cooking oil with a small portion of butter, medium heat, cast iron skillet...oil about 1/4 inch deep. Scallops were cooked one minute with the 'sprinkled' side down, then 30 seconds on the other side. The spices were all from Local Spicery in Tiburon. We served each flavor in waves. Cook, taste, cook the next wave.

Winning flavors:

1) Mole Poblano powder. Really add a smokey depth that all seven of us enjoyed. The cooking time left nice pearlescent interiors that were warm but could be eaten by had within 30 seconds of leaving the stove.

2) Jin Yong spice mix. Similar to what you run into rubbed on ahi as a seared/raw dish. It had a cool flavor that actually melded well with the scallop flavor.

3) Chinese seven spice. perhaps I over sprinkled, but neck and neck with the Jin Yong.

4) Plain. We got the scallops at Costco, 12 count, not as flavorful as some other sources, but OK. I had some raw before cooking and they did lack full on scallop depth. They were all prepared dry before cooking. The best part was that the timing really worked well for texture.

5) "Chardonnay smoked salt." This was a prepared salt from the shop, I think I underused it, but gave a nice savory sensation.

6) "Whiskey brown sugar" (also prepared from the shop) with harissa powder...OK, the spice/scallop mix was nothing earth shaking. I don't think I will revisit this.

7) Ras El Hanout powder. It was OK, but last place.

None were unenjoyable. I "finger dipped" each spice ahead of time and starting the scallops with the spice side down seemed to help bring out more complexity.

Costco also had some lovely fresh wild Dover sole filets, so I powdered some Corn Chex in the blender and did and egg wash, touch the cord powder, pan with butter, medium heat, 30 seconds per worked nicely. The younger people had multiples, I would recommend the quality of the fish. We made many extras and tonight will be fish taco night.

I was too busy doing cook/serve to pause for pics, I was turning or serving something every 90 seconds.

We served all this with 2013 Chaucer Chardonnay and 2013 Pinot Noir (the chard was ever so slightly oxidized but one of the kids was ape for it, the Pinot was perfect, great great great acidity and pure fruit flavors.) Also served Ceritas 2015 chard that paired better with the sole and a 2015 Hyde Winery Hyde Vineyard chard that killed with the scallops. It was a fun yin/yang thing. If you like Aubert's Hyde Vineyard chard, you will love this one. To contrast with the bright fruit of the Chasseur pinot, we poured a 2002 Sea Smoke Southing pinot that is just drinking great, and also a 2014 Ferren Frei whose earthiness was a perfect contrast to the Chassuer.

Apologies for the lack of pics.

My bottom line:

1) Scallops at 1 minute, flip, 30 seconds in shallow oil and medium heat work perfectly.

2) Powdered Chex make a nice mild, thin (thin is better) covering for sole. (It felt like the powdering was only one molecule deep, amazing.)

3) Costco's current wild Dover Sole is worthy.

4) Matching them with pinot noir is a good pairing.

All served with tiny little soft skin potatoes placed in a bag with lemon olive oil and lots of fresh resiny rosemary, shaken about to coat the potatoes, then onto a cookie sheet at 425 for 30 minutes gave slightly al dente texture and ever so slightly crusty skin. Added a garden salad with kale, some beet greens, and whatever else was green and looked ready to eat in the garden.
Anton Dotson

What is man, when you come to think upon him, but a minutely set, ingenious machine for turning, with infinite artfulness, the fine red wine of Shiraz into urine?

User avatar
George Hejna
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 5136
Joined: April 21st, 2009, 3:36 pm
Location: Batavia, IL

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#2 Post by George Hejna » September 2nd, 2019, 12:33 pm

I don't use oil to sear a scallop. Cause you end of basically frying them. Stainless steel pan. Dry. Extremely hot. Scallops need to be bone dry also.

Put the scallop on, it makes a cool squeaking sound. Don't touch it don't move it, try not to even look at it. It should release it self from the pan after properly seared. Maybe 90 seconds on each side. Everything else, sauce etc can be done in another pan or post searing once the scallops are out.


Posts: 4420
Joined: November 10th, 2013, 1:16 pm

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#3 Post by Bdklein » September 2nd, 2019, 12:40 pm

I love lemon pepper sprinkled on scallops .
Bruce Klein

User avatar
Jim Stewart
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 864
Joined: July 31st, 2018, 9:49 am
Location: MA / FL

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#4 Post by Jim Stewart » September 2nd, 2019, 12:42 pm

Nice notes and good work. . .
-I have always done high heat for searing.
-Dover sole is pretty delicate and relatively thin, but for cooking thicker fish fillets and steaks, you might check out the " pan roasted" method. Sear in the pan on the stove top then finish in the oven in the same pan.
Happy cooking and wine pairing!

User avatar
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 4916
Joined: April 29th, 2010, 5:00 pm
Location: Cranford NJ

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#5 Post by cjsavino » September 2nd, 2019, 12:52 pm

Scallops I always have them on a paper towel before cooking, try to get as much moisture out before searing

User avatar
Kevin Porter
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 1974
Joined: April 29th, 2009, 11:17 am
Location: Near Philadelphia

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#6 Post by Kevin Porter » September 2nd, 2019, 6:50 pm

I also get scallops as dry as possible and sear at high heat in clarified butter.

Joe Chanley
Posts: 711
Joined: February 1st, 2010, 1:13 pm

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#7 Post by Joe Chanley » September 2nd, 2019, 7:10 pm

Stealing from yaacov on IG bc it’s flawless for scallops. 20 minute salt brine on a wire rack in the fridge. Sear in cast iron with a little oil on one side for 7 minutes or so, then baste the top in butter and herbs. No need to flip. They’re perfect.

User avatar
Chuck Miller
GCC Member
GCC Member
Posts: 2146
Joined: June 1st, 2009, 7:58 am
Location: Seattle, WA

Re: Scallop and sole night...searing is hard.

#8 Post by Chuck Miller » September 2nd, 2019, 7:59 pm

Kevin Porter wrote:
September 2nd, 2019, 6:50 pm
I also get scallops as dry as possible and sear at high heat in clarified butter.
This. Clarified butter is key, as well as high heat. To the original poster, you experimented with different seasonings instead of different cooking methods. First, get your technique down, THEN play with flavors.
Chuck Miller
Seattle Wine Storage

Post Reply

Return to “Epicurean Exploits”